Attitude of the Government and LTTE on Madhu Church, perturbs Sri Lankan Catholics
By Quintus Perera - Asian Tribune
Colombo, 12 April, (Asiantribune.com): Catholics in Sri Lanka have decided to use one of their most powerful weapons to change of heart by the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE as the Catholics believe that due to the military pursuance of the two warring factions there could be serious damages and destruction to this Holy Shrine of Madhu which has been most devoutly venerated by the Catholics of Sri Lanka.
Bishop of Mannar Rayappu Joseph has requested all Catholics to fervently recite Holy Rosary to save Our Lady of Madhu Shrine from military and political activities. Reciting of Holy Rosary has been a powerful weapon to change of hearts of the two warring factions to save Our Lady of Madhu Shrine.
In a press release to appeal to protect the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu from all military presence and operations Bishop Joseph Rayappu indicated that Madhu Shrine has been much respected and venerated by Catholics all over Sri Lanka. For more than 400 years Catholics have gathered around Our Lady of Madhu has a unique Shrine that has served the spiritual needs of Sri Lankans from different walks of life, different ethnicities, different religions and different areas of the country.
Bishop of Mannar has indicated that for more than two decades, in the midst of conflict and mass displacement, Madhu Shrine also served as a place of refuge for all affected people. Madhu Shrine has been recognized locally and internationally as a ‘safe heaven’ and a place of refuge for people fleeing in the face of war and destruction.
He has pointed out that the Church Administration has always maintained the Shrine and the area around purely as a place of religious worship and a place of refuge for displaced people. It was strictly kept out of bounds for any type of military or political activity. In the last few weeks they have been extremely concerned that this Sacred Shrine and its functions as a centre of spiritual and humanitarian services has come under severe threat due to the escalation of the on-going military conflict shells are falling within the church premises several times and many of those staying there have been compelled to leave, while priests and other church workers who are still remaining live in fear and are being forced to seek shelter in bunkers.
The Statement went on to indicated that The Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka, the Bishops and the Priests of the Diocese of Mannar have been appealing to the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army to refrain from using the area gazetted as Madhu Church reservation under the Pilgrims Ordinance of 1982 for military and political purposes and to respect its Sacred and Humanitarian nature.
Bishop Joseph Rayappu mentioned that appeals have been made of the President of Sri Lanka to declare the Madhu Shrine as a zone of peace through a special gazette notification in order the ensure that the Shrine can continue to serve as a religious and humanitarian space.
Today, as military operations are taking place very close to the Shrine they are compelled to make an urgent appeal to both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to respect Madhu Shrine and the area to remain completely and solely in the administration of the Church. At this crucial and difficult juncture they appeal to all Catholics, all Sri Lankans to particularly those who have a deep sense of belonging and devotion to Our Lady of Madhu as well as all religious leaders and the international community to join in their efforts to safeguard the sacred and the humanitarian character of this very special place of worship.
In this intention they will hold special prayer services in Mannar at St Sebastian’s Cathedral and they invite all the Catholics and people of good will to join in their cry, address both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to completely desist from using Madhu Shrine in their military and political purposes. They also invited all faithful and devotees of Madhu to fast and pray on Fridays and pray the Holy Rosary on Saturdays for this purpose and to bring in peace in our dear land.
- Asian Tribune -